Quotulatiousness

July 14, 2014

“Canada’s true sesquicentennial is happening right now”

Filed under: Cancon, History — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:12

In the Winnipeg Free Press, Allan Levine reminds us that not only is Canada’s 150th birthday coming up in 2017, but that the meetings that led to Confederation were being held 150 years ago and much of the success was due to a “forgotten father of Confederation”:

BOLSTERED by generous federal funding, the 150th anniversary of Confederation will be celebrated on July 1, 2017 with the great hoopla the birth of this country deserves.

Yet the hard work, political compromises, backroom negotiations and constitutional debates that made Confederation — a more remarkable development than we appreciate today — possible occurred during a five-month period from June to October in 1864.

In short, Canada’s true sesquicentennial is happening right now.

The two most notable events of 1864 were conferences in Charlottetown, in early September, followed by a more extensive one held in Quebec City for much of October. At the gathering in Charlottetown, delegates from the Province of Canada — divided into two regions, Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec) — led by John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier, respectively, convinced politicians from the Maritimes a federation of all of British North America made sense. The fundamentals of this new constitutional entity were then hammered out in Quebec City, producing a comprehensive plan for a new country outlined in the 72 Resolutions, which became the basis for the British North America Act proclaimed on July 1, 1867.

Apart from Macdonald and Cartier, the other key political personality in Charlottetown and Quebec City involved in making Confederation a reality was George Brown, the publisher of the Toronto Globe. Born in Scotland, Brown had arrived in Toronto via New York City at the age of 24 in 1843 and a year later established the Globe. A large man, he was over six feet tall and powerfully built. Brown was hard and dogmatic, but also an energetic and passionate man with strong convictions about free speech, civil liberties and the separation of church and state.

Brown became a leader of the Reform movement in Canada West and rallied around him left-leaning Reformers in Toronto and western farmers he dubbed “Clear Grits” (this faction only wanted men of true grit). He was eventually elected to the Province of Canada assembly in 1851, the beginning of a journey that would culminate with his role as a leading Father of Confederation and a founder of the Liberal party.

Update, 15 July. Richard Anderson has more on George Brown, and neatly explains why of all the Fathers of Confederation, only Sir John A. sticks in anyone’s memory. Poor George founded the Liberal party, but wouldn’t recognize the party in its modern incarnation.

George Brown certainly founded the Liberal Party, The Globe and Canada as a viable nation state. The Liberal Party, however, would prefer if you not remember all that stuff. Like an unpleasant uncle whose Thanksgiving Day antics you have suppressed from conscious memory, Brown is an embarrassment to modern Grits. To understand that you only have to give glancing attention to the man himself.

Brown of the Globe was a classical liberal, or to put it another way he was real liberal, one who understood very well the root meaning of the word: Liberty. He denounced crony capitalism (see the Grand Trunk Railway), fought for the separation of church and state (see his attacks upon ultramonte Catholicism) and advocated for free trade. This fierce tempered, no-nonsense Scots-Presbyterian would have made mince-meat out of Pierre Trudeau and his dimwitted spawn. When the Liberal Party of Canada stopped believing in liberty they had no use for Canadian classical liberalism’s greatest exponent.

George Brown is more than forgotten, he is an orphan in our statist politics. We are much the poorer for it.

February 11, 2013

A boxplot of First Nations misery

Filed under: Cancon, Economics, Government — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:17

Over the weekend, Colby Cosh posted this depressing box-and-whisker plot (aka “boxplot”) from statistical data on First Nations communities:

First Nations boxplot

Why did I want to look at this information this way? Because Canada actually performed an inadvertent natural experiment with residential schools: in New Brunswick (and in Prince Edward Island) they did not exist. If the schools had major negative effects on social welfare flowing forward into the future we now inhabit, New Brunswick’s Indians would be expected to do better than those in other provinces. And that does turn out to be the case. You can see that the top three-quarters of New Brunswick Indian communities would all be above the median even in neighbouring Nova Scotia, whose FN communities might otherwise be expected to be quite comparable. (Remember that each community, however large, is just one point in these data. Toronto’s one point, with an index value of 84. So is Kasabonika Lake, estimated 2006 population 680, index value 47.)

On the other hand, and this is exactly the kind of thing boxplots are meant to help one notice, the big between-provinces difference between First Nations communities isn’t the difference between New Brunswick and everybody else. It’s the difference between the Prairie Provinces and everybody else including New Brunswick — to such a degree, in fact, that Canada probably should not be conceptually broken down into “settler” and “aboriginal” tiers, but into three tiers, with prairie Indians enjoying a distinct species of misery. (This shows up in other, less obvious ways in the boxplot diagram. You notice how many lower-side outliers there are in Saskatchewan? That dangling trail of dots turns out to consist of Indian and Métis towns in the province’s north — communities that are significantly or even mostly aboriginal, but that aren’t coded as “FN” in the dataset.)

I fear that the First Nations data for Alberta are of particular note here: on the right half of the diagram we can see that Alberta’s resource wealth (in 2006, remember) helped nudge the province ahead of Saskatchewan and Manitoba in overall social-development measures, but it doesn’t seem to have paid off very well for Indians. This isn’t a surprising outcome, mind you, if you live in Alberta; we have rich Indian bands and plenty of highly visible band-owned businesses, but the universities are not yet full of high-achieving members of those bands, and the downtown shelters in Edmonton, sad to say, still are.

December 5, 2012

The shipbuilding tradition of the Maritimes

Filed under: Cancon, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:56

I got a media advisory from Tell Tale Productions this morning, letting me know that their most recent documentary will be shown on CBC television this Sunday on Land & Sea:

Maritime Shipbuilding is a half hour documentary that reveals this seafaring history and the proud tradition that lives on today. The film travels to once-thriving shipbuilding centers in Atlantic Canada to reveal was at one time the most vibrant, productive, and profitable shipbuilding region in the world.

From the first boats built by the earliest settlers, to the golden Age of Sail in the 1800s, and from the Grand Bank fishing Schooners to the high tech Naval frigates of today — the 28,000 vessels built in Atlantic Canada during the past 250 years have shaped the region like no other industry.

January 27, 2012

Popehat‘s Censorious Asshat round-up

Filed under: Cancon, India, Law, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:14

If you’re not already following the adventures of Ken at Popehat, you’re really missing some entertainment. Here are a couple of items from this week’s round-up of the folks who want to shut you up when you say things they don’t like using the legal system as a large club:

First up, we have Dr. Randeep Dhillon! Dr. Dhillon is suing Jay Leno. Is he suing Jay Leno for being a trite, phone-it-in placeholder? NO! There’s no California cause of action for that! SAG would never allow it! No, Randeep Dhillon is suing Jay Leno for a lame joke about Mitt Romney suggesting that his vacation home was the Golden Temple of Amritsar, a holy site for Sikhs! [. . .]

Congrats, Dr. Dhillon! You win a date with California’s robust anti-SLAPP statute! You’re going to pay Jay Leno’s attorney fees in this case, which I will estimate to be $50,000! And because some people will generalize about Sikhs based on the act of one asshole — you — you’ve just done more to expose Sikhs to hatred, contempt, ridicule, and obloquy than that threadbare hack Leno ever could! Way to go!

And from closer to home (and, I note, the very first time I’ve needed to use the New Brunswick tag):

Next, ladies and gentlemen, we travel North, to Canada, and the Fredericton, New Brunswick Police Department! The Fredericton Police just staged a eight-officer raid of the apartment of Charles LeBlanc! Is Charles LeBlanc breaking bad with a meth lab? Does he have children in cages? Is he a gun-runner? No! He’s a blogger, and he’s being raided for criminal libel for criticizing the Fredericton Police! That’s right! The Fredericton Police Department not only thinks it is appropriate to serve search warrants on bloggers who say mean things to them, they think that they should execute the search warrants themselves, even though they are the alleged victims of the criminal libel! That’s the New Professionalism in action, ladies and gents! Stand and be amazed!

Update, 4 May, 2012: The charges against Charles LeBlanc have been dropped after the New Brunswick Attorney General determined that Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador have all found Section 301 to be unconstitutional and that no New Brunswick court would be likely to disagree with those decisions. More information at the CBC website.

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